« PreviousContinue »
down the heavens in order to open their fear, for example, that the intellectual graves. Oh! you have only to think benefits of scriptural knowledge are wellwhat a change would pass on the aspect of nigh entirely overlooked ; and that, in the our race, if the Bible were suddenly with efforts to raise the standard of mind, there drawn, and all remembrance of it swept is little or no recognition of the mighty away, and you arrive at some faint notion principle that the Bible outweighs ten of the worth of the volume. Take from thousand Encyclopædias. And we are christendom the Bible, and you have fearful on your account, lest something taken the moral chart by which alone its of this national substitution of human population can be guided. Ignorant of literature for divine should gain footing the nature of God, and only guessing at in your households. We fear lest, in the their own immortality, the tens of thou- business of education, you should sepasands would be as mariners, tossed on rate broadly that teaching which has to a wide ocean, without a pole-star, and do with the salvation of the soul from without a compass. The blue lights of that which has to do with the improvethe storm-fiend would burn ever in the ment of the mind. We refer to this point, shrouds; and when the tornado of death because we think ourselves bound, by rushed across the waters, there would be the vows of our calling, to take every heard nothing but the shriek of the terri- opportunity of stating the duties which fied, and the groan of the despairing. It devolve on you as parents or guardians. were to mantle the earth with a more than There is a sense in which it may be Egyptian darkness; it were to dry up the affirmed that souls, those mysterious and fountains of human happiness; it were to imperishable things, are given into the take the tides from our waters, and leave custody of every father of a family. And them stagnant, and the stars from our we are persuaded that if there be one heavens, and leave them in sackcloth, thing on this earth which, more than and the verdure from our valleys, and another, draws the sorrowing regards of leave them in barrenness; it were to make the world of spirits, it must be the system the present all recklessness, and the of education pursued by the generality future all hopelessness, the maniac's of parents. The entering a room gracerevelry and then the fiend's imprison- fully is a vast deal more attended to than ment, if you could annihilate that precious the entering into heaven; and you would volume which tells us of God and of conclude that the grand thing for which Christ, and unveils immortality, and in- God had sent the child into the world structs in duty, and woos to glory. Such was that it might catch the Italian accent, is the Bible. Prize ye it, and study it and be quite at home in every note of the more and more. Prize it, as ye are im- gamut. Christianity, indeed, is not at mortal beings—for it guides to the new variance with the elegancies of life: she Jerusalem. Prize it, as ye are intellect- can use them as her handmaids, and give ual beings—for it "giveth understanding them a beauty of which, out of her serto the simple.”
vice, they are utterly destitute. We We have now only space for a brief wage no war, therefore, with accomplishword of exhortation, and we ask for it ments, any more than with the solid your closest attention. A minister, if he acquirements of a liberal education. We would be faithful to his calling, must are only anxious to press on you the nemark the signs of the times, and endea- cessity that ye make religion the basis vour so to shape his addresses that they of your system. We admit, in all its may meet, and expose the prominent breadth, the truth of the saying, that
Now we think that, in our own knowledge is power. It is power-ay, day, there is a strong disposition to put a fatal power, and a perilous. Neither aside the Bible, and to seek out other the might of armies, nor the scheming agency in accomplishing results which of politicians, avails any thing against God hath appointed it to effect. We this power. The schoolmaster, as we
have already hinted, is the grand engine their own in the things of eternity, why, for revolutionizing a world. Let know- the children have perhaps learned the ledge be generally diffused, and the fear Church Catechism, and they read a chapof God be kept in the back ground, and ter occasionally on a Sunday afternoon. you have done the same for a country as And that ye may avoid the mistake into if you had laid the gunpowder under its which, as we think, the temper of the very institution; there needs only the times is but too likely to lead you, we igniting of a match, and the land shall be would have you learn, from the subject strewed with the fragments of all that is which has now been discussed, that, in glorious and venerable. But, neverthe-educating your children for the next life, less, we would not have knowledge you best educate them for the present. chained up in the college and monastery, We give it you, as a truth, made known because its arm is endowed with such to us by God, and, at the same time, sinew and nerve. We would not put forth demonstrable by reason, that, in going a finger to uphold a system which we be- through the courses of Bible instruction, lieved based on the ignorance of a popu- there is better mental discipline, whether lation. We only desire to see knowledge for a child or an adult, than in any of the of God advance as the vanguard of the cleverly devised methods for opening and host of information. We are sure that strengthening the faculties. We say not an intellectual must be a mighty pea- that the study of Scripture should exclude santry. But we are equally sure that an other studies, or be substituted for them. intellectual, and a godless, will demon- Natural philosophy is not to be learned strate their might, by the ease with which from Scripture, nor general history; and they crush whatever most adorns and we would not have such matters neglectelevates a kingdom. And in speaking to ed. But we say that scriptural study you individually of your duties as parents, should be, at once, the groundwork and we would bring into the family circle the companion of every other; and that the principles thus announced as applicable mind will advance, with the firmest and to the national. We want not to set most dominant step, into the various bounds to the amount of knowledge departments of knowledge, when familiarwhich you strive to impart. But never ized with the truths of revelation, and aclet this remembrance be swept from your customed to walk their unlimited spreadminds, that, to give a child knowledge ings. If parents had no higher ambition without endeavouring, at the same time, than to make their children intellectual, to add to knowledge godliness, is to do they would act most shrewdly by acting your best to throw the momentum of the as though desirous to make their children giant into the arm of the idiot; to con- religious. It is thus we apply our substruct a machinery which may help to ject to those amongst you who are parents move a world, and to leave out the spring or guardians. But it applies to all. We which would insure its moving it only call upon you all to observe that, in place towards God. We would have you shun, of being beneath the notice of the inteleven as you would the tampering with lectual, the Bible is the great nourisher an immortality deposited in your keeping, of intellect. We require of you to bear the imitating what goes on in a thousand away to your homes, as an undeniable of the households of a professedly Chris- fact, that to care for the soul is to cultitian neighbourhood,—the children can pro- vate the mind. We will not yield the nounce well, and they can step well, and culture of the understanding to earthly they can play well; the mother proudly husbandmen. There are heavenly minisexhibits the specimens of proficiency in ters who water it with a choicer dew, painting, and the father dwells, with an and pour on it the beams of a more brilair of delight, on the progress made in liant sun, and prune its branches with a Virgil and Homer—but if you inquire kinder and more skilful hand. We will how far these parents are providing for not give up reason to stand always as a
ROUSSEAU AND LORD BYRON.
priestess at the altars of human philoso- | wanting those who worshipped him as phy. She hath a more majestic temple an idol while he lived ; and after his to tread, and more beauteous robes where- death made a pilgrimage to his tomb. in to walk, and incense rarer and more They thought he had sown the seeds of fragrant to burn in golden censers. She a great moral revolution; but even Rousdoes well when exploring boldly God's seau himself lived long enough to mourn visible works. She does better, when over the failure of his own schemes; and she meekly submits to spiritual teaching, in his retirement was he heard to curse and sits, as a child, at the Saviour's feet; the humanity he had so idolized. It is for then shall she experience the truth, striking to remark how, ere he closed his that * the entrance of God's words giveth career, he became sick of a world he had light and understanding." And, there- vainly attempted to reform; and renouncfore, be ye heedful—the young amongst ing the brotherhood of his species, loudly you more especially—that ye be not proclaimed that the race was incurably ashamed of piety as though it argued a tainted with disease ! feeble capacity. Rather be assured, for What Rousseau was in prose, Lord asmuch as revelation is the great strength- Byron was in poetry. Not that he atener of reason, that the march of mind tempted to reform a world, of which he which leaves the Bible in the rear, is an seldom speaks but in the deep derision advance, like that of our first parents in of a leart which despaired of it;—not on Paradise, towards knowledge, but, at the account of its ungodliness; for it is not same time, towards death.
that which calls forth the bitterness of his adjurations. But he saw that “the whole head was sick, and the whole
heart faint;" that the deadly virus had Thus far have we explained the doc- totally pervaded it; and he gave back to trine of original sin; a doctrine which the world, from his own breast, a reflected affirms that there is an original proneness image of the guilt which troubled and to sin in all men, in virtue of which it is deformed it. We should have liked to that all men are sinners. This principles seen him led to the source of this moral is feebly felt, and therefore feebly recog
disease; for though hid under a veil of nised by many eloquent expounders; who apparent mysticism, it would seem as would tolerate impiety, if there were force if, in his wild and frenzied career, his enough in their own powerful and pathe- imagination caught a glimpse of that, tic appeals, to school away selfishness, which he never thoroughly understood. and cruelty, and fraud; and who under- "Our life is a false nature ; 'tis not in take to tutor the species, apart from what The harmony of things; this hard decree, they nauseate as Methodism. We have This uneradicable taint of sin, seen how bitterly they have been disap
This boundless upas, this all-blasting tree pointed; and how they have poured out
Whose root is earth; whose leaves and
branches be this disappointment on their disciples.
The skies, which rain their plagues on men Rousseau was one of these writers. He
like dew ;may be said to have abjured Christianity;
Disease, death, bondage; all the woes wa but from the bower of sensibility and romance, he sent forth those appeals, which And worse, the woes we see not; which thril were to recall a wandering race to primi through tive innocence. He plied all Europe Th' immedicable soul, with heart-aches eve with the spells of a most passionate and new." fascinating eloquence; and there were not
BY DR. CHALMERS.
IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL
BY THE REV. T. CHALMERS, D.D.
“ He hath abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel."
-2 Tim. i. 10.
The men of this earth carry on their gether that does not, in the fleeting hisdesigns and their doings just as if on earth tory of its inmates, give the lesson of they were to live for ever. Each is so their mortality. Is it a house ? Death intent upon his own earthly objects; every enters unceremoniously there, and, with heart is so occupied with its own earthly rude hand, tears asunder the dearest of schemes; every countenance speaks such our sympathies. Is it a town? Every deep and over anxiety after some favourite year death breaks up its families, and the yet earthly ambition ; each individual is society of our early days is fast melting so decidedly embarked, with all his away from us. Is it a market place? powers of attention and perseverance, in Though at the end of twenty years I see some earthly undertaking, that surely one a crowd as busy and as numerous as bewould think that can be naught of a tri- fore, these are new faces which meet me, fling or temporary nature which either and new names which fall upon the ear. creates or keeps up so mighty a stir Is it a church? The aspect of the conamong our species. And yet it is not the gregation is changing perpetually; and in less true that all the busy activities of all a little time another people will enter these people have their upshot in forget- these walls, and another minister will fulness. It is not the greatness or the speak to them. Is it the country at durability of the object which has called large? On every side we see a shifting forth the effort and the strenuousness of population; another set of occupiers to men; it is the folly of men that uges them the farms; and other names are annexed to the pursuit of paltry and evanescent to the properties. objects—a folly which overlooks the But this is viewing the subject at a arithmetic of our little years, and has distance. Every assemblage of objects invested them with the characters of eter- is composed of individuals. And think nity-a folly which all the demonstrations of the numbers that must have suffered to of experience have been unable to rectify, accomplish the change which I have now and which, after the mighty sweep of set before you. Think that each of these countless generations from the face of our individuals carried in his bosom a living world, reigns with unquelled strength principle, and that principle is now to all over the human heart, and finds the men appearance extinguished—that each felt of the present day as unwise and as infa- as warmly and as alive to the world as tuated as ever. Death is a theme of perhaps any who now hears me, and that mighty import, and every variety of elo- this world the stern necessity of death quence has been exhausted on the magni- forced them to abandon for ever-thar tude of its desolations. There is not a each was as feelingly open to pain and place where human beings congregate to-I fear, and that the forebodings, and the
reluctance, and the agonies of death of some fixed and unalterable necessity came upon all of them—that each had along with it, and of none more strict, hopes, and plans, and wishes to accom- more unfailing, and more widely extenplish, but that death forced them away, sive in its operation than the law of death. and they are all buried in forgetfulness In the wide circuit of things does there along with them. “ All is vanity, saith exist no high authority that can abolish the preacher;" and it is death which this law ?—no power that can overthrow stamps this character on the affairs of the death, that can grapple with this mighty world—it throws a mockery upon all that conqueror and break his tyranny to pieces? is human-it frustrates the wisest plans, We never saw that being, but the records and absolutely converts them into noth- of past ages have come down to us, and ingness. All the ecstasies of pleasure, all we there read of the extraordinary visiter the splendours of fame, all the triumphs who lighted on these realms where death of ambition, all the joys of domestic ten- had reigned so long in all the triumphs derness, all that the eye can look upon, or of extended empire. Wonderful enterthe heart aspire after, this, this is their prise! He came to destroy death. Vast affecting termination—death absorbs all, undertaking! He came to depose nature it annihilates all. Our fathers who strut- from this conceived immutability; and a ted their little hour on this very theatre, law which embraced within its wide were as active and noisy as we—the loud grasp all who live and move on the face Jaugh of festivity was heard in their of the world, he came to overturn; and dwellings; and in the busy occupations he soon gave token of a power commenof their callings, they had their days of surate to the mighty undertaking. That labour and their nights of painful anxiety; nature, to whose operations we are so apt the world carried on it the same face of to ascribe some stubborn and invincible activity as now—and where are the men necessity, gave way at his coming; she who kept it up in their successive gene- felt his authority through all her elerations ? They are where we shall soon ments, and she obeyed it. Wonderful follow them; they have gone to sleep— period !—when the constancy of nature but it is the sleep of death-their bed is a was broken in upon by him who estacoffin in which they are mouldering—the blished it—when the Deity vindicated his garment which they have thrown aside is honour, and the miracles of a single age, their body, which served them through committed to authentic history, gave evilife, but is now lying in loose and scat- dence to all futurity that there is a power tered fragments in the little earth that they above nature and beyond it. What more claim.
unchanging than the aspect of the starry And it does aggravate our hopelessness heavens—and in what quarter of her doof escape from death, when we look to minions does nature maintain a more silent the wide extent and universality of its and solemn inflexibility, than in the orbs ravages. We see no exception-it scat- which roll around us? Yet, at the comters its desolations with unsparing regu- ing of that mighty Saviour, these heavens larity among all the sons and daughters broke silence-music was heard from of Adam. It perhaps adds to our despair their canopy, and it came from a congrewhen we see it extending to the lower gation of living voices, which sung the animals, or behold the lovely forms of the praises of God, and made them fall in vegetable creation dissolving into no articulate language on human ears. After thing. lt carries to our observation all the this, who can call nature unalterable ? immutability of a general law; we can Jesus Christ hath abolished death, he has look for no mitigation of the incorrigible made perpetual invasion upon nature's distemper; we cannot reverse the process constancy, and she never in a single inof nature, nor bid her mighty elements to stance resisted the word of his power. retire. Is there no power, then, superior “ What manner of man is this?” said his to nature, and which can control it? To disciples, “even the winds and the sea us a law of the universe carries the idea obey him!” Philosophers love to expaVOL. I.-6